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Gettin' Ziggy With It (vol. 9)

Good evening, everyone! What an exciting time! It’s good to get to the end of spring training healthy, and I’m so excited for the season to start. Today’s been a lot of fun, just sitting back and watching MLB games all day. I wasn’t able to watch the A’s game, but I tried to catch it intermittently on XM Radio...sandwiched around a "welcome" dinner for our team here in Midland. Sounded like a tough game...

Camp ended on a positive note for me, as I was able to tweak my delivery a little bit and add a little more velocity to my pitches, improve my breaking ball, and hopefully keep the deception that’s created by the submarine delivery. I was able to get in one game after making the adjustment, and I had an 8-pitch inning against the Angels’ AA team. Our entire staff was outstanding that day, as we played 9 and ½ innings (our team batted in the 10th to give the Angels’ pitcher some more work) in 1 hour, 53 minutes. Brad Knox, Jeff Coleman, Steven Sharpe, and I combined to 2-hit the Angels’ team on 106 pitches. It was a great tune-up to lead us into the season.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), we have our media night as well as holding a practice that’s open to the public. After a workout Wednesday, our first game is scheduled at home on Thursday against the Springfield Cardinals (St. Louis’ AA club). Dallas Braden will take the hill on opening night for us.

Now, I’ll attempt to tackle a few more of your questions...

*Given the transient nature of minor league ball, is it hard to make lasting friends on the clubs you join? Who are your best buds on the team right now, and what do you think of them as ballplayers? -- rickeyrocks

For me, it’s been easy to make friends in baseball. I’ve always been a pretty outgoing person, and I enjoy meeting players from other teams, as well as getting close to guys on my team. I have several friends that I keep in touch with that are no longer playing or have moved on to other teams.

My best friend in the A’s system right now is Danny Putnam, an outfielder who will start this season in AA. Danny and I have gotten along great ever since we were first teammates at the beginning of the 2005 season. We have a lot in common off the field, and that helps make it easy to keep in touch in the off-season.

*My question revolves around a former top prospect Dan Meyer. I have been extremely high on him since he came over in the Huddy deal. I was disapointed to here he has been sent down to minor league camp already. Can you let us know how he is throwing, and if you think he is finally healthy and ready to join the rotation in 2008? -- Bud Light

I know people are curious about the health status of various players, but that's really not up to me to discuss. It's basically a private issue between the player and the ballclub. I will say that Dan has been pitching throughout spring training, and he is scheduled to start the season in extended spring training.

3 questions from IM4Oakgal...

*How you feel about other minor league pitchers? Jim Bouton always said he wanted other pitcher's to win the game but "not at his expense." Did you ever read Ball Four?

I touched on this in another column, but I’ll briefly reiterate...I feel like if I’m good enough to get to the big leagues, then somehow I’ll end up there. And either way, I want to have fun playing, and it’s no fun to lose. So I choose to root for all my teammates, because I want to enjoy the time that I have playing this game. (No, I did not read Ball Four.)

*How about adding a few personal observations about players? For instance who do you think is the smartest player? Hardest worker etc. I realize you can't insult anyone but it would be interesting to read about some of your observations.

I've played with a lot of great, intelligent, hard-working ballplayers. I don't think there's any way I could separate them based on their intangibles, and there are way too many to try to name them all.

*Why is the print back to gigantic size again on the site?

I have no idea. Haha.

Sorry today's column is shorter than previous ones. I'm extremely tired from the long drive to Midland yesterday. Thanks for your questions. Keep them coming! I’m still planning to address everything that has and will be asked, even if I don’t get specific to safe face. Next week, I’ll give you an update on how our season is going through the first few games, and I’ll briefly talk about any outing(s) I’ve had up to that point. Enjoy the week of games!